Staff Sergeant David O. Anthony

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Grouping: Staff Sergeant David O. Anthony (ASN: 36682781)

David Orlando Anthony was born on December 25, 1917 in Peoria, Illinois. Before entering the service David Anthony was a machinist at the Peoria & Pekin Union railway roundhouse. Afterwards he was employed at the Rock Island arsenal, which has been an active manufacturer of military equipment and ordnance since the 1880s. Nowadays it is the largest government-owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the United States.[1]

In the early days of WWII, the Army Air Corps was short of flyers. So in June 1941, Congress created the grade of aviation cadet, and the Army launched a massive flight-training program. Within two years, its annual output would soar to more than 65,700 pilots, 16,000 bombardiers, and 15,900 navigators. In time, the cadet program would expand to train non rated officers in such fields as communications, armament, weather, and radar.[2]

David went into the Army Air Force in 1943 to join the Air Cadet program. At the beginning of his Cadet training, his choices were to become a pilot, bombardier or a navigator. He got his basic training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. This was an important and highly active U.S. Army installation, from 1826 through 1946. During WWII it served as a basic training site for the Army.

When David finished his basic training, he went to Kent State University, Ohio where his Air Cadet program began. He was in the 336th Training Detachment, which consisted of aircrew. During the fifteen months the 336th occupied the campus, some 2,000 young men from across the nation slept in Moulton and Lowry halls, ate in the latter’s cafeteria, and did close order drill on Rockwell Field, where the university football team had played.[3]

Because of the success of the Air Cadet program, and the need of personnel elsewhere, the government relieved David Anthony from Cadet training. Instead they sent him to Harlington, Texas where he was trained to become a gunner. Harlington Army Air Field was the home for the Army Air Forces Flexible Gunnery School. A Special Order from June 23, 1944 states that David was required to participate regularly and frequently in aerial flights from June 24 to July 7, 1944. At this time, he was still in Gunnery School. After that he went to Walla Walla, Washington for overseas training.

Late in 1943, Walla Walla Army Airfield lay idle when the Second Air Force withdrew its B-17 Flying Fortress training operation. However, in April of the following year, the Fourth Air Force took charge of the airstrip and established a training base for B-24 Liberator crews.

During the war years, it is estimated that more than 8,000 officers and men were trained at this base producing 594 heavy bomber crews who compiled about 114,514 hours in the air while in training.[4]

When David graduated from Gunnery School, he was ready to be sent overseas. On November 3, 1944 David left the United States for England. He arrived on November 14, and was attached to the 713th Bombardment Squadron, 448th Bombardment Group (Heavy) which was part of the 8th Army Air Force. This unit was stationed at Seething Airfield, England.

Seething airfield was built in 1942-43 by John Laing & Son Ltd., to the standard Class A requirement for heavy bombers, the airfield had a main runway of 6,000 ft. long aligned SW-NE and two secondary runways of 4,200 ft. in length.

In total David flew 30 missions as a tail gunner. His worst mission was the low level dropping of supplies to paratroopers of the 17th Airborne Division during Operation Varsity. Losing his wingmen, and 5 of the 9 planes to German ME 262 and 163 jets.

After 7 months and 14 days overseas, David returned to the United States having served as an Armorer and Gunner (MOS 612). He got discharged on October 25, 1945. He received 5 Air Medals (earned between January 24 to may 2, 1945), the Good Conduct medal, the European – African – Middle Eastern Campaign medal with 3 battle stars (Rhineland, Ardennes, and the Central Europe campaigns), and the WWII victory medal.

His Air Medal citation reads:
“For meritorious achievement, in accomplishing with distinction, several aerial operational missions over enemy occupied Continental Europe. The courage, coolness, and skill displayed by each of these individuals in the face of determined opposition materially aided in the successful completion of these missions. Their actions reflect great credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States.”

After the war, David went to work as a machinist for Hyster Company for 2 years (a manufacturer of forklift equipment, which still exists today). Later he went to work as a processing engineer for Caterpillar and retired after 25 years in June 1980. His job was buying machinery that made engine parts. David was also the Assistant Captain of the Richwoods Volunteer Fire Department when he was younger. Seems he was always putting his life on the line to help others.

[1] Rock Island Arsenal,
[2] The Aviation Cadets,
[3] A History of Kent State University,
[4] History Walla Walla Airport,